About Jane Bown, Cats

Jane Bown (1925-2014) worked at the Observer for six decades – her first photograph, a portrait of Bertrand Russell, was published in January 1949. Although she worked in all areas of photojournalism, everything from demonstrations to cat shows to fashion to sport, she is remembered as one of the UK's foremost portrait photographers. Working almost exclusively in black and white, Jane's portraits are characterised by a deep affinity with her subjects. In her long career, she photographed a dizzying array of celebrities – all of the Beatles, Jean Cocteau, the Queen, Bjork, Samuel Beckett to name a few. Jane hated to talk about what she did but one characteristically terse quote sheds much light on her working method: 'when I look through a lens, in that brief instant when the subject looks back at me, love is the only word to describe what I feel'.